University of Minnesota
School of Public Health

  • Midwest Center
    for Occupational
    Health and Safety

    1260 Mayo (MMC 807)
    420 Delaware Street SE
    Minneapolis, MN 55455
    Main: 612-626-0900
    Fax: 612-626-4837

  • Call toll free:
    1-877-36- MCOHS

Advisory Board


The Midwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety's Advisory Board includes experts from the fields of academia, industry, government, and labor, who provide counsel to the Center.

The Advisory Board members include:


Julia HalbergJulia Halberg, MD, MPH, MS, FACOEM
Advisory Board Chair

Vice President, Global Health Services and Chief Medical Officer

General Mills

Minneapolis, MN

As vice president, Global Health and chief medical officer of General Mills, Dr. Julia Halberg leads the company's global approach to preventive care, health education, well-being programing, and medical treatment. She joined General Mills in 2001 as the director of Health Services.

Halberg earned her medical degree from the University of Connecticut. She received a master's degree in biology/ecology and a master's of public health degree in epidemiology from the University of Minnesota. Halberg completed residency training in internal medicine and fellowship training in occupational medicine where she is board certified.

Halberg has published extensively on several topics, including shift work, blood pressure, and circadian rhythms. She is a fellow of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and served on their board of directors for six years.

At the University of Minnesota, she is an adjunct assistant professor in the Division of Environmental Health Sciences where she mentors environmental/public health Ph.D. candidates, medical students, and occupational medicine residents. Halberg serves on the boards of Way to Grow, the Midwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety (MCOHS) and the Institute for Clinical Services Improvement.

"As a doctor at General Mills, I see my role as an advocate for employees' well-being," says Dr. Julia Halberg, Vice President of Global Health and Chief Medical Officer, General Mills.

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David Abrams

David S. Abrams, CIH, MSPH, Fellow-AIHA

ARS Environmental Health, Inc.

11501 Fetterly Road West

Minnetonka, MN 55305

Phone: 952-513-0116

David S. Abrams, CIH, MSPH, Fellow-AIHA, a practicing industrial hygienist, is the founder and president of ARS Environmental Health, Inc. He focuses on practical and pragmatic approaches to the challenges of occupational health and safety in today’s economy while providing industrial hygiene consulting services to large- and medium-sized corporations since 1997. David has also worked for Clayton Group Services (now Bureau Veritas) as Regional Manager of the Minneapolis office, The A.J. Abrams Company, 3M, and Olin Corporation.

David is an active volunteer in Health and Safety. The industry and discipline has been good to his family for two generations and he believes it is important to give back some of what he has earned. He serves on the Advisory Boards for the Midwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety and the associated Continuing Education, and IH/HSAT programs where he also volunteers as a Mentor. David also serves on the Board of the American Industrial Hygiene Foundation, where he is a Past Treasurer, and the AIHA Finance Committee. He is President of the Upper Midwest Local Section of the American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2011 and 1998, and a Past President of the Northwest Chapter of the ASSE. He is past President of the American Industrial Hygiene Association Respirator Committee and a past non-voting member of the ANSI Z88.2 Committee on Respiratory Protection. In 2016, he was appointed to the Executive Committee of the American Industrial Hygiene Association Nano-Technology working group.

David is an instructor in the School of Public Health Continuing Education Program and has also served as an instructor at NIOSH-funded programs for the following ERC programs: University of North Carolina; New Jersey School of Medicine and Dentistry; and University of Washington.

David volunteers outside of the profession on the Educational Services Advisory Committee and the Strategic Planning Committee in Hopkins Independent School District 270 and is a past member of the Citizens’ Financial Advisory Committee. He also volunteers with Nechama (Comfort) Disaster Response when his back allows and was a youth soccer coach for many years. David serves on the Board and Executive Board of the Hillel Foundation at the University of Minnesota where he is a Past Treasurer.


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Lynn Ayers, BSN, PNA, MPH

Waconia City Council
Diamond A Farm LLC - Agricultural Operation Partner
Phone: 612-590-6115

Ms. Ayers has served on the Waconia City Council since 2013. She is also a Managing Partner of the Diamond A Farm LLC. The Diamond A Farm is a 1,200-acre Century farm located in St. Cloud, Minnesota, which was established by her great grandfather in 1878. Over the years Lynn has provided direct labor, driving tractor/hauling grain, irrigation, to recent (2014) new responsibilitities of operating the farm along with contract and fiscal management. Diamond A Farm has received statewide recognition for its Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Ms. Ayers has been a featured farmer in the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health Advances Publication, focus on sustainability and environment:

As the former director of Ridgeview Business Health for 24 years, Ms. Ayers provided overall administration of an occupational health program and the clinical services provided to businesses and industries in the southwestern Twin Cities area. That included strategic planning, marketing, implementation, evaluation, financial management and supervision of staff that provided services to over 500 companies.

Ms. Ayers was also involved in a variety of other activities such as the Department of Labor and Industry-Medical Services Review Board, Carver County Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee, and the Southwest Metro Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. She is the past president of the Chanhassen Chamber and Chaska Area Chamber, and has served as President of Chaska Rotary She is member of the University of Minnesota's Occupational Health Nursing Advisory Board and Midwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety advisory Board. She works on global public health issues and has served as a member of an international Rotary team in India for WHO/Polio Plus, Peru-scholarship program, and Brazil-Professional Exchange Program. In 2013, she led a team of young professionals for a month exchange in central India, Madya Pradesh.

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beyJean Bey, COHN-S, CCM, FAAOHN

Occupational Health Consultant

St. Paul, MN

Jean has served on the Midwest Center's Centerwide and Occupational Health Nursing Advisory Boards for many years, providing keen insight into external trends and how they shape professional practice and wise counsel on how to best modify our curriculum to better prepare students.

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James L. Craig, MD, MPH


Family and Preventive Medicine Services, Inc.

Minneapolis, MN

Dr. Craig continues part-time practice in occupational medicine.  After 25 years with General Mills, Dr. Craig retired in 1998 from General Mills, where he served as Vice-President and Director of Health and Human Services with responsibility for the medical, safety, industrial hygiene, environmental management, and employee services departments. General Mills' headquarters is located in Minneapolis but is a multinational corporation. 

Dr. Craig has also served as the Director, Secretary, Treasurer, Vice President and President of the American Academy of Occupational Medicine which merged with the American Occupational Medical Association to form the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. (He is a past president of the College). He has also served as the Director, Secretary, Treasurer of the American Occupational Medical Association; Chairman, Occupational Health Institute and President of the Minnesota Occupational Medical Association as well as President of the Minneapolis Academy of Medicine,  Park Nicollet Institute, and Health Systems of Minnesota Institute (all in Minnesota).  He also served on the Board of Trustees at the University of Minnesota's Minnesota Medical Foundation and the Board of Directors of the Minneapolis Kiwanis Club.  Currently, he serves on the Board of Trustees of Crossroads College and Crossroads College Foundation (Rochester, MN).  Dr. Craig has collaborated with the Midwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety since its inception and was one of the Center's founding members.

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General Manager - Safety, Industrial Hygiene, and Worker's Compensation

Cliffs Natural Resources


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Brian FinderBrian J. Finder, PhD, CIH

Professor, Operations and Management Department
Director, M.S. Risk Control Program
NIOSH Training Project Grant
University of Wisconsin-Stout
Menomonie, Wisconsin

Phone: (715) 232-1422

Dr. Finder's educational background includes a BS in Industrial Education and a MS in Safety from UW-Stout, a Doctorate of Industrial Technology from the University of Northern Iowa, and accreditation as a Certified Industrial Hygienist by the American Board of Industrial Hygiene. In 2003, Brian was recognized by the College of Technology, Engineering and Management for his teaching excellence and received UW-Stout's Outstanding Graduate Faculty Award in August of 2010. In addition to researching the attenuation qualities of anti-vibration gloves, an experimental study of his identified that long-term/repeated cold exposure produces a semi-permanent form of peripheral nervous system impairment in meat processing workers. The results of this study were presented in March of 2006 at the 9th Annual Applied Ergonomics Conference in Orlando, Florida.

Having served as the Program Director for the M.S. Risk Control program, Brian presently teaches various courses within the Operations and Management Department, including Human Factors Engineering/Ergonomics, Fleet Risk Control Management, Principles of Occupational Risk Control / Safety and Field Problems in Risk Control. He also teaches a series of five courses which allows individuals to become certified by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and/or the Department of Transportation in order to teach traffic safety education.

Prior to joining the Risk Control Center faculty in January of 1995, Brian spent ten years as a safety and industrial hygiene technical support professional for high-tech, heavy/light manufacturing, agricultural, and food processing-related industries. He routinely provides industrial hygiene as well as safety-based consultation for various types of manufacturing and service-based organizations.


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Susan HallbeckSusan Hallbeck, PhD, PE, CPE

Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Scientific Director for Health Care Systems Engineering, Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery; Consultant, Division of Health Care Policy and Research, Department of Health Sciences Research; Professor and Section Head, Health Care Systems Engineering, College of Medicine;
Mayo Medical School, Mayo Clinic
Rochester, MN
Phone: 507-538-7944

Dr. Susan Hallbeck, PE, CPE is the Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Scientific Director of Health Care Systems Engineering in the Kern Center for the Science of Healthcare Delivery and faculty in Health Care Policy and Research, as well as Surgery at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. She is a Professor and section head of Health Care Systems Engineering in the Mayo Medical School.

She is an emerita Professor in Industrial Engineering / Mechanical and Materials Engineering at the University of Nebraska Lincoln with a courtesy appointment in Surgery at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. While at the University of Nebraska, she served on the NIOSH Heartland Occupational Safety and Health Center (University of Iowa) Board of Advisors from their formation in 1999 until she moved to Mayo Clinic in 2012.

Susan earned her PhD from Virginia Tech, her MS from Texas Tech on a NIOSH traineeship and her BS from Iowa State University, all in Industrial Engineering.

She served as engineering lead for the VA Engineering Resource Center at the Nebraska-Western Iowa Veterans Health Administration Medical Center. She performed research at the Swedish National Institute for Working Life and The Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research in the Quality of Worklife, Ergonomics and Innovation Department.

She is on the editorial board of Applied Ergonomics and an associate editor of and IIE Transactions on Healthcare Systems Engineering. She has over 90 archival peer-reviewed publications. She was elected Fellow in the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Fall 2014.

Susan's research focus is to improve medical device ergonomics, teamwork and health care ergonomics for provider and patient safety. She is a certified professional ergonomist and professional engineer in industrial engineering with a specialty in human factors and ergonomics. Her work is currently focused in the operating room and emergency department.


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Jim KellyJim Kelly, MS

Manager, Environmental Surveillance and Assessment Section

Minnesota Department of Health
St. Paul, Minnesota
Phone: 651-201-4910

James Kelly, M.S. has over 25 years of experience with the State of Minnesota in the environmental health field, at both the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). He is currently the manager of the Environmental Surveillance and Assessment Section at MDH, which: develops, maintains, and applies expert risk assessment techniques so that environmental hazards are assessed using sound science; conducts public health activities related to contaminant releases; and tracks the occurrence and characteristics of environmental health issues such as climate change.

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kirkhornSteve Kirkhorn, MD, MPH, FACOEM
Director/Section Chief
Occupational Health
Minneapolis Veterans Administration Health Care System
Minneapolis, MN

Dr. Steven Kirkhorn has served as the Director of the Minneapolis Veterans Administration (VA) Health Care System since 2013. He is also part of the Veterans Health Administration of the Veterans Administration nation Occupational/Environmental Medicine National Consult Program which provides consulting services to the other occupational health departments in the VA system. He serves as the Environmental Health Champion at a regional level, a national program to enroll veterans in Environmental Health Registries based upon their service exposures.

Dr. Kirkhorn received his undergraduate degree in zoology, medical degree, and master's in public health in environmental health from the University of Minnesota. He completed his training in Family Practice and later in Occupational Medicine and is board certified in Family Practice and Occupational Medicine. Dr. Kirkhorn is a Fellow of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Previously, Dr. Kirkhorn was the Medical Director of the National Farm Medicine Center and the NIOSH National Children's Center for Rural and Agricultural Safety and Health, one of the ten NIOSH Agricultural Health and Safety Centers, and Chair of Occupational Health for the Marshfield Clinic from 2003-2013. Presently, he is Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School. Dr. Kirkhorn has been active over the years as a member of state and national public health committees and task forces, NIOSH review panels, and various non-profit organizations' board of directors.

Dr. Kirkhorn is published in the area of agricultural respiratory disease, community health issues of animal confinement operations, and agricultural ergonomics and musculoskeletal disorders. He served as the Executive Editor of the Journal of Agromedicine from 2004-2012, a peer-reviewed journal indexed by National Library of Medicine and continues to be an associate editor. His interests are in rural occupational and environmental health, medical center occupational health, service-connected environmental exposures in veterans, issues affecting veterans' return to work after active duty, agricultural medicine, and the interaction of personal health and occupational health.

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Al KochAl Koch

Program Manager

North Dakota Occupational Safety and Health Consultation

Bismarck State College

Bismarck, North Dakota


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Tracy MillerTracy K. Miller, MPH

State Epidemiologist

North Dakota Department of Health

Division of Disease Control

2635 E. Main Avenue, P.O. Box 5520

Bismarck, ND 58506-5520

Phone: 701-328-2387

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John MulhausenJohn Mulhausen, PhD, CIH

Manager, Industrial Hygiene

Environmental Technology and Safety Services

3M Corporate Offices

St. Paul, MN


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Gary Olmstead, PhD, CIH, CSP
President, Olmstead HSE Services
Former Director, Global Safety and Environment, General Mills, Inc.;
Former: MCOHS ERC Advisory Board Chair
119 Travis Drive
Georgetown, Texas 78633
Phone: 612-964-8465

Mr. Olmstead has been actively involved with the School of Public Health for over 25 years. He is adjunct faculty at the University of Minnesota and the University of St. Thomas, and has served on several SPH advisory committees. He also served as chair of the Midwest Center for Occupational Safety and Health (MCOHS) for many years.

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James PichaJames Picha


JDP Safety Consulting LLC

Laborer's Local #132
Carpenter's Local #322

Richfield, MN


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Richard PollockRichard A. Pollock, CSP

President and Consultant

Comprehensive Loss Management, Inc. (CLMI)

Minneapolis, MN

Expertise: human performance and training technology

Mr. Pollock has served on the Midwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety Center Advisory Board and Program Advisory Board for more than 25 years, providing the insight of an experienced safety professional working with an inter-disciplinary team, and input on issues facing the business community. He is an experienced safety professional, degreed in Safety Education and Management from the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater, where he received the Distinguished Alumni Award. He recently was named 2014 Cabot Executive in Residence at the University of Wisconsin – Stout.

Mr. Pollock's professional experience includes: Corporate Director of Safety, Health and Environment at Medtronic, where he managed a staff of over forty professionals, worldwide, addressing biomedical manufacturing exposures, and Corporate Director of Safety and Risk for Clark Oil and Refining, where his responsibilities included overall risk control and property protection for three refineries and 22 terminals. Other professional experience includes safety management positions in consumer goods processing, heavy manufacturing, and loss control. At CLMI he has created over 500 safety and health related education courses and consults with corporations worldwide.

Mr. Pollock has been a member of the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) for 39 years. He recently served as the Society's 98th President for 2012-2013. Awards include: the Culbertson Award for creating member educational opportunities, the President's Award for sponsorship and funding educational expansion, and the Northwest Chapter Safety Professional of the Year award for significant organizational contributions. At the ASSE Society level he was also the VP - Council on Professional Development, and served on the Board of Directors as Senior Vice President, President Elect, and on the Congress of Councils, the Compensation and Long-Range Planning Committees, the PDC Planning Committee (Chair) and, in 2011, served as the Chair of the 100th Anniversary Task Force.

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Nico PronkNico Pronk, Ph.D., M.A., FACSM, FAWHP

Vice President for Health Management, Chief Science Officer


Dr. Nico Pronk is Vice President for Health Management and Chief Science Officer at HealthPartners, an integrated, non-profit and member-governed health system headquartered in Minnesota. Nico is also a Sr. Research Investigator at the HealthPartners Institute for Education and Research, an integrated research and medical education division of the HealthPartners organization. Nico holds a faculty appointment as Adjunct Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts. He is also a visiting professor in the department of Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.

Dr. Pronk's work is focused on connecting evidence of effectiveness with the practical application of programs and practices, policies and systems that measurably improve population health and well-being. Solutions of this kind may be applied to the workplace, the care delivery setting, and the community and therefore also involve the development of new models to improve health and well-being at the research, practice and policy levels.

Dr. Pronk is a member of the Community Preventive Services Task Force and the Roundtable on Obesity Solutions at the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. He is co-chair of the CEO Innovation Collaborative at the National Academies of Medicine, an initiative focused on cross-sector partnerships involving the business and industry sector. He is the founding and past president of the International Association for Worksite Health Promotion and was appointed by the Armed Forces Surgeon's General and confirmed by the White House to serve on the Armed Forces Epidemiological Board.

He is widely published in both the scientific and practice literature and is a national and international speaker on population health and health promotion. Dr. Pronk received his doctorate degree in exercise physiology at Texas A&M University and completed his post-doctoral studies in behavioral medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center at the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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John PuetzJon Puetz, M.Ed, BSEE

Program Director

South Dakota Occupational Safety and Health Consultation Program

Engineering Extension

South Dakota State University

Box 2220, HH 201

Brookings, SD 57007

Phone: 605-688-5741


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rachleffPeter Rachleff, PhD

Professor of History, US

Macalester College

1600 Grand Ave

St. Paul, MN


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no photoJohn Rebrovich

Sub-District Director

United Steel Workers, District 11

Eveleth, MN


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sandersVikki Sanders

State Violence Coordinator

Department of Labor and Industry

St. Paul, MN

For 20 years, Vikki Sanders has worked at the Department of Labor and industry as the Workplace Violence Prevention consultant for the state of Minnesota.   She has worked 7 years as an OSHA investigator and 13 years as a consultant specializing in Workplace Violence, general industry safety and safety committees.

Vikki currently is the Public Sector Principal Consultant for the Department of Labor and Industry specializing with public sector employers. Vikki has taught over 510 businesses and 45,000 employees on safety topics to a variety of industrial settings including healthcare, education, manufacturing and business. 

As a Consultant/Trainer and Co-Author of the workplace violence prevention manual, Vikki Sanders offers practical tools of awareness and understanding that will help make your workplace safer.

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Marco YzerMarco Yzer, PhD

School of Journalism & Mass Communication
School of Public Health
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, MN

Marco Yzer is Professor of Health Communication at the University of Minnesota's School of Journalism & Mass Communication (SJMC). He also has an adjunct professor appointment at the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health.

Yzer holds a PhD in Social Psychology from the University of Groningen, the Netherlands (1999). He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania (2000-2001), and Assistant Professor at the University of Amsterdam (2002-2005). His research focuses on motivational processes that explain how mass-mediated and interpersonal communication may lead or inhibit health behavior, and on how understanding of these processes can inform the design of messages that can help people improve their health.

He has consulted on the design and evaluation of numerous health promotion interventions in the U.S., the Netherlands, Mexico, and South Africa on safe sex, alcohol use, drug use, cancer screening, vaccination and smoking cessation, among others. His work has been published in communication, public health and psychology academic journals.

At the University of Minnesota Yzer is the Director of Graduate Studies of the SJMC's Health Communication MA program. He advises MA students in that program as well as MA and PhD students in the SJMC's academic graduate programs whose research focuses on health communication.

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Brian ZaidmanBrian Zaidman

Senior Research Analyst

Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry

St. Paul, MN

Brian Zaidman is a senior research analyst with the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI). He has been a member of the agency's research team since 1987. During his lengthy tenure with DLI, Brian has studied a broad variety of workers' compensation and workplace safety issues, including vocational rehabilitation, medical cost containment, insurance fraud, dispute resolution processes, workplace safety consultation effectiveness, and the undercount of occupational injuries and illnesses. Brian provides research support for the annual Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses and the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. As part of his efforts to improve the quality of Minnesota's workplace injury and illness estimates, Brian regularly gives presentations on the basics of OSHA log recordkeeping.

Brian graduated with a B.A. in Psychology from the University of California, San Diego, in 1978 and studied Social Psychology as a graduate student at the University of Minnesota from 1979 through 1984. Brian lives in Eagan, Minnesota, with his wife, Enrica and has three grown children. Brian is a member of the boards of directors of the Minnesota State Employees Combined Charities Campaign, Joseph's Coat and the Temple of Aaron.

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The Midwest Center for Occupational Health and SafetyContact MCOHS